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Gooner Corner

An online community to Arsenal fans.

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Project Overview
 

There are 105 Arsenal Supporters' Clubs around the world, which means that there are Arsenal fans that live in 100 countries of a distance bigger than 300km to Emirates Stadium (going up to 18,325km, as it’s the case of Auckland, NZ) which means that they can’t physically can’t attend games every other week in London. Being one of them, I saw a gap in the Arsenal services, allowing an opportunity of a new digital product that will bring these fans closer, creating a sense of belonging that mimics the unbeatable sensation of going to a place where you see yourself amongst over 50 thousand other people that over 90 minutes are brothers and sisters.

With this brief, we can ask ourselves:

"

How can we improve the sense of community to Arsenal fans that can’t geographically go to the Emirates Stadium on a regular basis?

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My role

UX/UI Designer / Product Designer

Process

Research, market analysis, surveys, qualitative interviews, ideation, prototyping, testing, evaluation.

Scope

6 weeks

Tools

Figma, Miro, Adobe XD, Adobe Illustrator, Notion, Google forms, Zoom, Lookback.

The challenge today
 

Geographical distance

Arsenal is a football team of international importance with over 105 Arsenal Supporters’ Clubs. Most of these clubs are in places where the distance makes it impossible for the fans to visit the stadium in a regular basis.

“Untranslatable” atmosphere effect

Much of the football experience lies in the atmosphere of watching a match in person. The components of this experience are heavily based on senses - from the chants to the food you can find in the stadium. Finding what can be transferable to a different scenario is key to creating the next-best experience for those fans who cannot go to the Emirates Stadium often.

Lack of an official online community

With such a big international community a place where those fans can connect can only be online. Today there is no digital project conducted by Arsenal FC to create this digital social meeting point.

Research

Research
 

In the research phase, the main goal was to understand people’s mindset and what challenges are they facing as Arsenal supporters abroad. To gather insights I’ve made a market research in 2 countries from each continent and 10 of the most followed clubs in the Premier League. Thereafter, I’ve conducted a survey and qualitative interviews to develop the personas and its empathy maps.

Secondary/Market Research

Market Research
 

An important first step while in the research phase is to understand the market practices. To obtain a complete vision of the football industry I’ve analysed 2 countries in each of the 6 regions already divided in the Arsenal website (Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, South America and North America), 2 clubs per country. Aside from those, I’ve also analysed the 10 most followed clubs in the Premier League in order to also gain a better understanding of the domestic market.

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Quick stats

World

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UK

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Fans' survey

Fans’ survey
 

After conducting the market research, I moved into validating findings through a fan survey so I could cross the information of what the market offers versus what the fans want and need.

The sample contained 30 fans of 19 teams living in 14 different cities. The age of the participantes varied from 18 to 72 years old. Added questions were made to those stating they do not live in the same city as their football team.

Quick stats

Qualitative Interviews

Qualitative interviews
 

"Half of my closest friends I made through my club. So I think it has an important role (in my social life)"

In addition to the Google Forms survey, I asked 5 people in my local network if they’d be willing to do qualitative interviews. The interviews happened in person and online and had an average duration of 1h.
The main goal of this phase was to deep dive into the supporters’ habits, needs and other variants that would allow me to create a full picture of their fan profile, gathering further information on non-objective topics such as feelings, memories and sensations.

Insight #1 - Other supporters’ voices… on the palm of your hand
 

With the 93.3% mark, the club’s official app and the club’s official Instagram account lead as the main means the supporters keep up to date with their teams’ news. The result agrees with the importance given by the clubs analysed during the market research period, when all teams have an app managed by the club. The finding states the priority of the strategy being implemented on the official apps, with the website as a complement.
 

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I use the app more than the website because the time I have to check it is when I’m in the metro going or coming back from work.

As close third comes unofficial/fan lead social media accounts, with 90% of the sample citing them as a main source of information. In the interview phase I’ve asked specifically about advantages over official sources, the opinion-based content and exchange were the most cited.

I watch Baldasso’s channel because it feels more like a discussion. I follow Internacional news on the website too, but I like also to listen to other supporters opinions.

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Persona development

Persona development
 

After the research and analysis is finalised it’s important to create the personas who will represent the archetypes of the possible clients of this new digital product. Based on the insight 3, from the last section, the main difference in behaviour towards a digital community was made by people in two groups: “those who live in the same city as their team” and “those who don’t live in the same city as their team”.

In order to embody these two groups, I’ve created the following personas - Wyn and Abigail - who will help me throughout the ideation and design processes to come.

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Empathy Mapping
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Empathy Mapping
 

The empathy mapping was a strategy to delve deeper into the persona’s human aspects and day-to-day attitudes, feelings, senses and needs.

The information to fill the post-its was all based on the answers of the survey and quotes of the interviews.

Ideation
Product Vision

Product Vision
 

Since first asking “how can we improve the sense of community to Arsenal fans that can’t geographically go to the Emirates Stadium on a regular basis?” and the start of the research, the digital product started to take shape.

At the first stage of market research it became clear that the majority of clubs tend to trust the supporters’ clubs as main form of proximity to the international fans. Surprisingly, though, 82.35% of the fans who answered the survey and lived abroad stated to not be part of any supporters’ group - the 17.65% who said they were part of some sort of supporters’ group were not part of an official supporters’ club of their team. When it was asked in the quality interviews about the reasons not to participate, one of the participants said:

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To be completely honest it was not something that came to my mind… to search when I moved here. Now we’re talking about it, I know I’ve heard of ‘em (supporters’ club). I guess it’s a nice idea to meet people, but it does feel like a different kind of commitment… I may be wrong, but it feels like more work than just being a member.
 

Another interviewee brought up another reason:

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I suppose it’s on me. After work I’m too tired… the time I actually dedicate to getting into the (AC Milan) news is when I’m commuting. That’s when I “engage” (air quotes) the most… outside the game day… I usually open the app to check the fixtures or read an article… Or I check Instagram, there I might even comment, or something like that.
 

The mobile content was another clear important topic to the fans, a priority already noticed by the clubs analysed as all of them already invested in an official app and social media accounts. The strategy, though, didn’t cover the majorly chosen international fans product, the previously cited supporters’ clubs. None of the clubs analysed had in their apps a dedicated session to the supporters’ clubs contacts or any other information.

A different kind of community seemed necessary and therefore the idea of a Gooner Corner came alive. An online space, available inside the club’s app focused on social exchange between the supporters with an important feature of event creation to take this network to real life, bringing the sense of community closer to those geographically far.

User Journey

User Journey
 

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Once the first phase of Research was completed and the product vision started to take form, the next step was to create the personas’ user journeys. It was specially valuable to outline possible pain points and opportunities as I drafted Wyn’s and Abby’s steps through the at this moment draft, of what Gooner Corner would become.

User Flow

User Flow
 

After finalising the user journeys, it was time to create the user flows. The exercise of putting yourself in the users’s shoes and going through their actions helped me understand and refine some ideas I already had of what the process should be. With that, it was possible to see some dead ends and the need of extra steps I previously didn’t list as necessary. Therefore, the user flows were great guides as the drafting of the low fidelity wireframes began.

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Lo-Fi wireframes

Low Fidelity Wireframes
 

My first concern while exploring the design of the first low fidelity wireframes was bringing to life the main fan needs revealed in the research phase: a bigger proximity to the club, a space of exchange with other supporters and the possibility of bringing this online community to the real life, enabling fans who are not in London to experience watching matches with fellow Arsenal supporters, for instance.

Another big ambition was to create a hub for all fan interaction which was translated into the homepage where you can easily access, with direct buttons, the main features: groups, events, user profile, content sharing and user inbox.

The background choice of a world map showing the fans online was made to reinforce the sense of community and belonging.

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Design

Branding
 

Even though Gooner Corner is brand new product it is made to be placed inside the already existing digital product Arsenal App, for that reason it was important to keep the branding guidelines already defined and used by the Club.

The Gooner Corner identity was also kept close to Arsenal’s in use strategy as it’s equally imperative to achieve the main product’s goal: bringing the sense of the Arsenal community closer to those geographically far.

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Original

design

Gooner
Corner

High Fidelity Wireframes
Hi-Fi wireframes

High Fidelity Wireframes
 

As a passionate football fan, to see this idea coming to life while finalising the high fidelity design was a true a delight. In essence, the Gooner Corner is project made by a supporter to other supporters.

While I was tweaking the last details, I saw in front of me a legitime answer to my initial questioning of “How can we improve the sense of community to Arsenal fans that can’t geographically go to the Emirates Stadium on a regular basis?”.

We improve the experience of geographically-far-Gooners by providing a well-thought space where they can feel seen and heard. A safe space that can allow those - who for some reason are not one of the lucky 60,704 of that week - to meet other fans who will go through the same emotions during those 90 minutes. Or to just chat and share opinions and memories.

In this video, I walk through the onboarding journey and the main features of the Gooner Corner: User profile, content sharing, events and groups. 

Test
Usability testing

Usability Testing
 

The best way to learn about the quality of the experience is not to listen to what people say, but to observe what they actually do. For that reason, I’ve done two usability testing sets of sessions. One with the low fidelity wireframes and another with the high fidelity wireframes.

I conducted the first usability testing in-person with two volunteers. I presented them a scenario and asked them to complete 3 tasks as I took notes and they guided me through their actions. After the sessions I revised the initial designs and changed some layouts that seemed to need work after the test. For example, I noticed the disposition of the a couple main buttons on the homepage needed to change.

Moreover, in this first phase, a big component to the project came up: the need of a safety barrier to enter the community, as one participant questioned the fact that in the register phase there wasn’t a way in which the club verified the fans information.

The second round of usability testing, this time with the high fidelity wireframes, happened in the same structure but with 3 volunteers, two of them online. The feedback was equally important even though focused on minor changes.

The analysis of both rounds of sessions was made after I created the affinity maps to be shown in the next section.

Affinity mapping

Affinity Mapping
 

One of the most popular UX techniques, the creation of affinity maps was a key step in the analysis of the usability tests I’ve made to help me organise the information I had that was both brought by the volunteers’ feedback and my own notes.

The final diagram was divided into 4 main clusters: behavioural observations, errors, positive quotes and negative quotes.

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Learning and recommendations

Learnings and Recommendations
 

This was my first end-to-end project as a product designer, working through all the user experience steps and user interface screens and visuals, therefore it’s safe to say I have learned a ton of new things and sharpen a good dozen skills during the last 6 weeks.

From living inside Figma to diving into different types os mapping, testings, journeys and flows… I can say, overall, working with Gooner Corner made me even more aware of the H in HCI. It was an idea born to help ‘healing’ a feeling a great amount of football fans have, therefore, the humanity of the user itself was often brought to the table.

As I talked to a friend about the project I ended up with a really cheesy, but true explanation-slash-pun coming from my mouth: “to be a football fan is a lot about belonging. So, when you can’t physically be there, there’s a lot of longing left. Fundamentally that was what Gooner Corner was all about. I put a lot of energy and passion into this project because I genuinely believe it’s a product thousands of people would have real social benefits from.

As a what-if project and network based platform, Gooner Corner has still a list of improvements catalogued during the production and usability testing sessions. Feel free to message me so we can talk further details!

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